Take your work seriously but not yourself.
That’s the philosophy that is paying off for dual John Eales Medallist David Pocock after a superb comeback season.
Pocock stormed home to win his second medal by the largest margin since Chris Latham in 2006 despite missing last year’s Spring Tour in a year-long sabbatical.
The flanker could never be accused of shirking responsibility in his office and the 30-year-old has long been looking to strike balance in rugby and life.
During his year away from Australian rugby, Pocock visited other sporting figures and looked at how many were able to find that.
“I met a few people who are really good at balancing things, which is something every professional rugby player goes through,” he said.
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A huge honour to receive an award from John Eales that's voted on by my team mates. I've loved being back in the gold jersey playing alongside this group of men. I wrote the following excerpt from a Theodore Roosevelt speech in my journal as a 17 year old starting out in professional rugby in Perth and it has never rung more true than in the last few years. "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic" delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910
“When you're 18,19,20, your whole life is about rugby and the further into your career the more you realise that you have to have the ability to actually be 100 per cent focused on rugby and try to actually clear your head away from rugby.
“There are some real characters who seem to be able to - when the world was falling, was going to pieces around them - could be totally immersed in that and doing their best, then they have a good laugh and kick back with their mates,” he said.
“It's a good lesson to take our work very seriously but not ourselves.”
Rugby doesn’t get much more serious than a clash with the All Blacks and the Wallabies have one more of those this year before a three-Test Spring Tour.
It’s a block of games that could lift a 3-6 record to 7-6 for the year at its best or hand the Wallabies an abysmal 3-10 finish at its worst.
They travel to Japan on Saturday for that third Bledisloe, looking to salvage some pride after disappointing efforts in the first two Tests.
“It'll be a great way to measure ourselves, see what progress we've made this season and then after that we've got four weeks and three games on the road,” he said.
“It's a real opportunity to have more time together to start to continue to build those connections and bonds off the field and obviously work hard at training and hopefully that translates into good performances, playing in the way we want to play and playing the way that people are proud of us.”
Rugby Australia’s board on Friday endorsed Michael Cheika as the man to take the Wallabies to the 2019 Rugby World Cup and Pocock said there was no question in his mind about Cheika’s future either.
“I wasn't even aware it was up for discussion,” he said.
“I love the guy. I've learned a huge amount from him and over the last, since 2015 I've been involved with him and I'm excited about the next 18 months.”
Cheika admitted earlier in the week that the coaching staff knew some kind of change was needed, albeit not in personnel, and Pocock said the players were taking that on as well.
“It's a daily conversation,” he said.
“You're wanting to improve how your training every day, how you're approaching things, mindset, to get that performance. It's not just the performance.
“It’s something we talk about a lot.
“As a playing group, we're taking steps in that area to keep each other more accountable and I've been really impressed with Hoops and the way he's including guys that are starting to drive those sorts of things on the field.”